• phrenic nerve;
  • ultrastructure;
  • unmyelinated fiber;
  • morphometry;
  • lateral symmetry;
  • longitudinal symmetry;
  • rat


Despite numerous literature reports on the morphometry of the myelinated fibers of phrenic nerves in rats, a systematic study of the longitudinal and lateral symmetry of the unmyelinated fibers morphometry is not available. In this study, we have undertaken ultrastructural and morphometric studies of the phrenic nerve in adult rats, assessing two different levels (proximal and distal) from both right and left sides. Phrenic nerves of adult male Wistar rats were prepared for epoxy resin embedding and transmission electron microscopy. Morphometric analysis was performed with the aid of computer software, which took into consideration the unmyelinated fiber number, density, area, and diameter, as well as ratio between myelinated and unmyelinated fibers, and the percentage of the fascicular area occupied by the myelinated and unmyelinated fibers. Comparison of data from proximal and distal segments on the same side and from the same levels between sides was performed. Differences were considered significant when P < 0.05. The most important finding is that morphometric parameters of the phrenic nerve unmyelinated fibers in adult rats are both longitudinally and laterally symmetric. This study adds important morphometric information about the unmyelinated fibers of the phrenic nerves in adult rats for proximal and distal levels on both sides of the animal. Anat Rec 2009. © 2008 Wiley-Liss, Inc.